BOTHELL — When the game was over, Pop Keeney Stadium pulsated with happy fans, players and cheerleaders. The Falcon Marching Band thundered the school’s fight song.
As players headed to the locker room, Carter Smith was stopped by a reporter.
“This is the reason I love football!” Smith said. “It’s the competition. When games are like this is when it’s the most fun. When you win a game like this, there’s no better feeling in the world!”
Such were the emotions of Woodinville’s 7-3 win over Mount Si last Saturday night.
In this era of pinball machine scoring, the 10 combined points make it sound like the game was played in the pouring rain. But it was a comfortably cool evening — and what a game it was.
Mount Si entered the night unbeaten and featured the cannon-armed quarterback, Clay Millen. But to everyone’s amazement, the first half was a 0-0 defensive stalemate. With 2:32 left in the third quarter, Colby Ramsey booted a 32-yard field goal, giving the visiting Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Woodinville drove to the Mount Si 16-yard line. But quarterback Noah Stifle’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Stuart DeMerit. Mount Si looked prime to put the game away, driving into Woodinville territory. But facing fourth down and seven yards to go, the Wildcats went for it, and the resulting pass was batted to the turf incomplete.
Woodinville took possession on their own 40-yard line with 2:32 left. On 3rd and 3, Stifle ran a quarterback draw for 13 yards to the Mount Si 40-yard line. Two plays later, Stifle found Schenck with a completion to the 11-yard line.
The tension in Pop Keeney Stadium was palpable. Woodinville lined up with double tight ends, setting the stage for the Joey Johnson Show. The diminutive tailback, who runs like Larry Csonka, plowed to the 4-yard line. On the next play, he dragged tacklers to the 1-yard line. With thirty seconds left on the clock, Johnson pushed the ball across the goal line for the touchdown.
Mount Si mounted one final desperation drive to the Woodinville 29. But Millen’s long pass into the end zone was knocked down by Cage Schenck and Josh Spencer. With one second left, Millen dropped back but was stripped of the football by Nate Dixon. A Wildcat lineman picked up the ball and attempted to run, but he was quickly smothered. A thrilling night at The Popster came to a close.
“Our guys play with a lot of heart,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “We’ve had a couple of games this year where we’ve had to dig down deep. Go get it! Good old-fashioned football where you get tested. What do you have inside, right? Proud of our guys with the way they respond to those situations.”
Maxwell was quick to praise Mount Si. “They have great athletes who were physical and quick to get to the ball. I tip my hat to them.”
As the boys in green walked off the field, they were feeling ecstatic.
“That was a crazy win,” Cage Schenck said. “It was a really gritty win. You’ve got to expect a close game when you play Mount Si. They’re very well-coached. It was a really fun game.”
"This is probably the most exciting game I’ve ever been a part of,” Josh Spencer said. “Defense stayed strong, offense pulled it out in the end. So many emotions going through us right now, just an amazing feeling.”
Spencer also had words about running back Joey Johnson.
“Joey is insane!” Spencer said. “I have so much respect for him. He’s a workhorse. He does his job, The O-line opened holes tonight. Joey got in and it was a sigh of relief.”
Woodinville improved its record to 4-0 with the win. There was a feeling in the air of another special season afoot.
“We’re starting to play some pretty good football,” Coach Maxwell said. “We’ve got some new faces in there who are just starting to figure it out and do good things. I’m excited, our best football is still to come.”